The past week saw the Champions League semi-finals concluded. Two great ties served up plenty of drama and talking points. The matches ultimately saw two of the biggest sides in Europe crash out of the competition. Their conquerors? Two sides from England. In this article, I am going to talk you through the two ties and also look ahead to the Champions League final at the end of this month.
PSG Vs Manchester City (Manchester City win 4-1 on aggregate):
The first leg of this tie saw Manchester City come away from Paris with a crucial 2-1 victory. PSG, led by Neymar and Mbappé, was well on top in the first half and took the lead through Marquinhos‘s early goal. The Parisians ultimately could not capitalize on their fast start though and City came back into the game. Just after the hour mark, two goals in 13 minutes from Kevin De Bruyne and then Riyad Mahrez turned the game on its head. Guardiola’s men saw out the game and went back to Manchester with an impressive victory under their belts.
The second leg was all about Ryad Mahrez. PSG never really got a foothold in the match and amazingly didn’t register a shot on target throughout the 90 minutes. This was mainly due to the resolute defense of Ruben Dias and John Stones. The pair made several crucial blocks throughout the second leg. City’s strong defense allowed their attackers to benefit and Mahrez obliged. He gave his side a vital early lead, opening the scoring on 11 minutes before adding a tie sealing second on 63 minutes to send the ‘Sky Blues’ to the final. PSG lost their heads after this second goal and Angel Di Maria was sent off whilst four of his teammates were also booked.
It was a tough night for Pochettino’s men who undoubtedly missed the injured Mbappé. In truth though, Manchester City were comfortable winners and they will advance to European soccer’s showpiece game.
Real Madrid Vs Chelsea (Chelsea win 3-1 on aggregate):
In last week’s article, I asked the question “Are Chelsea becoming the real deal?”. Based on their performance in the semi-finals, the answer is yes. The first leg in Madrid ended in a 1-1 draw. However, this was very kind on Real, Chelsea dominated throughout and should have put the tie to bed. Chelsea had five shots on target in the match compared to Madrid’s 1 highlighting Chelsea’s domination.
Christian Pulisic opened the scoring for the blues after 14 minutes with a very cool finish. This was canceled out by Benzema’s acrobatic equalizer on 29 minutes. Benzema’s goal was the first Madrid had really threatened and so they were fortunate to get level with Tuchel’s side. The second half ebbed and flowed with Chelsea on top throughout. They could not gain an advantage though, so the tie went back to Stamford Bridge evenly poised.
The second leg was tense but ultimately Chelsea was dominant. The blues had several early chances before Timo Werner headed in after Kai Havertz hit the bar. Werner’s 28th-minute opener paved the way for a strong Chelsea performance. Following the opener, the Stamford Bridge side missed great chance after great chance. They had 15 shots in total and their dominance was only rewarded when youngster Mason Mount added the crucial second after 85 minutes. Chelsea was through to face fellow Premier League side Manchester City.
Real Madrid was disappointing and looked like an aged side without the energy and fitness to compete in Europe’s biggest games. Instead, Chelsea had the energy and had comfortably seen off the challenge from Zidane’s side.
The final will see Chelsea and Manchester City face off in an all-English Champions League final for the second time in three years. The game is to take place on the 29th of May and is scheduled to take place in Istanbul. However, there has been talk about moving the final to England. With two English teams and with travel bans currently stopping English fans traveling to Turkey this would make sense. The showpiece will be Manchester City’s first-ever Champions League final whilst for Chelsea, it will be their third. Wherever the final ends up being hosted, it promises to be a spectacle for both European and English soccer.
I will preview the final closer to the time but my early prediction is that Chelsea will pull off a shock. Before the semi-finals, I wrote about Manchester City’s season and I predicted that they would reach the final before losing to Real Madrid or Chelsea. As such, I am going to stick with that prediction and I think Thomas Tuchel will bring home Champions league number two for the London side.